concept of the Chicago School; political science; sociological orientation; dilemmas of political science
Studia Politicae Universitatis Silesiensis, T. 12 (2014), s. 13-26
As part of the research methodology in the social sciences, sociological orientation, created
and developed in the 1920s and 1930s in Chicago, achieved great importance and publicity.
Its assumptions and achievements were thoroughly discussed, were and are often cited in the
scientific literature. While relatively rarely mentions can be found of the existing at the same
time, largely separate institutionally and personally, Chicago School in the political science,
the creators and participants of which attempted to redefine the goals and methods of studying
political reality. The background for new proposals were normative assumptions dominant in
the first decades of the 20th century, of the so‑called
classical political science, very different
from the model of empirical science focused on the search for a general theory which started
to become a standard in all disciplines.
A new scientific discipline, emerging at the turn of the century, devoted to the study of
politics was primarily inspired by the achievements and traditions of such sciences as political
philosophy, legal studies or political history. It influenced obviously its normative character
by directing the interest of researchers primarily to considerations related to the legal and
constitutional solutions and analysis of the formal dimension of political institutions. During
this period, the real world of politics remained outside of analyses — thus, differently than in
the 19th century sociology with positivist orientation, no particular attention was paid to the
importance of scientific data obtained by using empirical methods.
My text contains a concise presentation of the scientific profiles of the main representatives
of the Chicago School in the political science — Charles E. Merriam, Harold D. Lasswell, and
Harold F. Gosnell. Their theoretical and methodological ideas on the methods of study and
mechanisms of political reality, which they used in their academic activities and research work,
in an unquestionable way influenced the development of modern political science. As far as the
methodology is concerned, the article is based on a direct analysis of key source texts and on
the attempt to interpret their contents and significance of the proposals contained therein, in the
context of the methodological dilemmas of modern political science.